He wants to make it to Q3 but he keeps his feet on the ground, like in previous years
Melbourne, March 23rd 2017.- Formula 1 is ready for a brand new Championship as its 68th season starts this weekend in Melbourne. The stars have arrived at the beautiful Albert Park circuit, home to the Australian Grand Prix for the 20th year in a row. Carlos Sainz is among them as he prepares for his third year in the series as a Scuderia Toro Rosso official driver.
The Australian Grand Prix will be Carlos’ 40th event in the competition. So far he has managed to score points in his two previous experiences in this track, finishing ninth in 2015 and 2016 after starting from the seventh spot of the grid on both occasions.
Carlos spent this Thursday together with the engineers and he also faced the press, as usual. His approach to the week-end and the year ahead is very positive. "I am feeling well. I am ready for this new season both from a mental and a physical perspective. I am fully ready and with no jet-lag, so I am just really looking forward for it to start".
Although Carlos couldn’t avoid the questions regarding his expectations for the weekend, he said it was still to early to make any predictions. "I’ve been twice in Q3 here so far, so I wouldn’t like this year to be the one when we fail to be there. But it could perfectly happen because we have no idea about where we are now. We can’t say we will be there, but I can say we would like to", he commented.
Despite the intense work and preparations throughout the winter, reliability issues compromised Toro Rosso’s preseason. "We don’t arrive here 100% ready because we lacked mileage in testing to understand everything within the car. The STR12 is very new and there are still some systems we are yet to discover. In this first race we want to comprehend the last details of the car and its performance".
The power-unit will play a more significant role than in 2016. Scuderia Toro Rosso will run the latest Renault spec. "Now we spend more time flat-out and there are certain corners where we don’t even lift at all. We go flat-out 20 meters earlier because of the superior grip and downforce. In that aspect, the engine plays a bigger role than last year".
Although fuel consumption wasn’t thought to be a major factor, Carlos recognizes it could have a strategic impact in the Albert Park. "It may very well be that we have to save fuel. It’s the bad news I have for our fans. We will have to look at fuel consumption despite we have those extra 5 kilos. The key thing here is that we will be flat-out more time, so fuel consumption will be higher".
Carlos trusts his team and he is confident about the improvement that has been done since last year, some of which are related to the strategy. "The team promised to do a step forward in that aspect, talking about strategy and pit-stops. I have full confidence in the team and we will soon be able to show it".
Race starts will be another challenge for the drivers. "They will be very difficult. I expect things will happen there. It’s almost impossible to do two identical starts, just like in GP2 or GP3 where they also have this kind of clutch. Race starts will have a greater element of randomness".
Last but not least, Carlos commented on how he expects development to be a bigger challenge than in the past. "This year we will improvise a bit. There will be lots of changes throughout the year. All of us will develop a lot. It’s a year of improvisation, let’s see where we are in each moment and let’s take the decisions. I like this".
Free Practice for the Australian Grand Prix will commence tomorrow at 12:00 local time (02:00 CET). Free Practice 2 will begin at 16:00 local time (06:00 CET). We will follow Carlos closely via our Twitter account @carlosainzinfo and we will share his results and thoughts in his official website, www.carlosainz.es.